• Home
  • Parashah Insights
  • Ask the Rabbi
  • Festivals & Fasts
  • Articles
  • Books
  • About
  •  

    The Jewish priest? – Emor

    The sidra has a lot to say about the kohanim.

    Every time we read this section I think of a newspaper crossword puzzle. The clue was “Jewish priest”; the answer was “rabbi”.

    How wrong can you be?

    A priest is not necessarily a rabbi: a rabbi is not necessarily a priest.

    Being a priest is limited to someone with the requisite lineage; being a rabbi is not an outcome of heredity.

    A priest can sometimes (regrettably) be ignorant: a rabbi is measured by his learning and knowledge.

    A priest conducts ceremonies: a rabbi is a scholar and teacher, and some rabbis never ever conduct a service.

    I know that the prophets say, “A priest’s lips shall preserve knowledge, and they shall seek the Torah at his mouth” (Mal. 2:7), and that verse certainly emphasises the importance of a priest being well versed in the Torah.

    But in fact every Jew should be a fountain of knowledge, which the Torah implies when it calls us “a kingdom of priests and a holy people” (Ex. 19:6), but the specialist authority on Torah was and is the rabbi.

    Comments are closed.